A new year has arrived which means that many have taken an oath to begin exercising. As a personal trainer who understands the importance of exercise to overall health, this is an exciting time of year because I see people becoming more active. Finding a parking space at the local health club in early January is more difficult than finding one in early March.
Unfortunately, the excitement and drive to get fit usually doesn't last long. How do we break this trend and avoid becoming one of those people who refer to exercise as something they do at the beginning of every year? Here are seven tips to help keep you exercising throughout the entire year.
1. Do Not Make Exercising a New Years Resolution. Everyone knows that these do not work, so don't set yourself up for failure from the start. Consider exercise part of your overall healthy lifestyle change.
2. Define Your Reasons for Exercise. Get to the heart of the matter. Don't confuse this with goals such as weight loss or muscle toning. How will reaching your goals impact your life? For example, by losing weight and increasing muscle strength you will be better able to play with your children, dance with your spouse, or be an active grandparent.
3. Start Where You Are. Remember that everyone begins exercising at different fitness levels. If you have not exercised in ten years, three days a week for thirty minutes is a better starting point than five days a week for an hour. Starting an exercise program at an inappropriate level can lead to discouragement, unnecessary soreness, and even injury.
Do not buy into the fitness myth that your level of muscle soreness is the best indicator of an effective workout.
4. Find an Accountability Partner. Adherence to an exercise program is much likely in those who have someone holding them accountable. Let's face it, you are much more likely to get out of bed and go to the gym or walk a track if you know your friend or trainer is waiting on you.
5. Set Specific Goals. It's important to set short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals help you stay on track and keep you motivated to reach your long-term goals. For example, running a mile is a good short-term goal to keep an individual on track to reach their ultimate goal of running a 10K (6.2 miles). Stating "I want to lose thirty pounds by spring break" is more helpful than "I want to lose weight."
6. Have Fun. Exercise should not be in the same category as chores like paying taxes or cleaning out the garage. In order to stay dedicated to exercise it's important to find activities you enjoy doing. You don't have to run on a treadmill or do 100 sit-ups. Any activity that increases your heart rate and challenges your muscles is considered exercise.
7. Expect Pitfalls. Throughout the year there will be events in life which are out of your control and will force you to get off of your exercise routine. The important thing is to anticipate these so that you do not get discouraged and quit. Once circumstances have improved, resume your exercise routine.
Here's to a healthier you—from the beginning of 2008 to the end!
Chris Crawford, MS, NSCA-CPT, NASM-PES, is co-owner of 180 Personal Training in Edmond. He has a master's degree in exercise science from the University of Central Oklahoma. He holds certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Chris may be contacted at 405-706-1262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Crawford's Update on MFM's First Iron Mom, ShaRhonda Burton
I have been blessed with the opportunity to train ShaRhonda and help her along the journey to "take her life in a new direction." Witnessing ShaRhonda's commitment, dedication, and positive attitude toward this lifestyle change has already been an inspiration.
She continues to remind me that she is on a mission. ShaRhonda has already lost twenty one pounds just six weeks into her program with me at the 180 Personal Training. She is well on her way to accomplishing this mission!